Posted by Melanie Perry
I always thought that I hated school. But, in later high school I was able to schedule some specialized classes and really enjoyed them. When I started college, I felt the same way. The general education courses were ‘boring’ and ‘hard’ and ‘pointless’, since they weren’t what I was going to school to learn, but the specialized classes were fascinating because they appealed to me.
I drudged through and completed my Associate’s Degree with that viewpoint firmly intact.
As I mentioned in a previous post, BJC started a ‘bridges to bachelor’s’ program that would allow mid-career professionals to take all of their core classes to get them well on the road to completing their degrees. Even though I thought those core classes were a burden, I signed up because I realized what a great opportunity BJC was offering.
Our first class was ‘Learning Strategies and Processes’ (PST 100). We re-learned how to do all of those things we’d been used to years ago as students. We analyzed our own learning styles, practiced writing and speaking, and basically got back into an academic mindset while learning to cope as ‘non-traditional’ students.
As I moved into ‘Approaching the Arts‘ and ‘Origins of the Modern World‘, I wasn’t all that thrilled about getting started, as I’d taken art history and world history in high school and college. I thought they’d be boring. Okay, I confess, I was wrong. There!
Sure, there was a lot to cover, and we had a ton of work to do, but, we debated, we discussed, we compared. The classes, helped by the professors and the other students, were INTERESTING.
By the time I’d moved into ‘Introduction to Philosophy‘ and ‘Theological Foundations‘, I’d noticed a certain continuity. I felt that each class really prepared me for the one after it, and with each successive course, I was able to learn more and more because I had a better base to draw from.
That brought me through a full year of schooling, and I decided to increase my courseload.
My summer classes last year were really the tipping point where I made the full conversion from someone who disliked school to someone who absolutely LOVED IT.
I took American Politics, which I was certainly never interested in before. There was SO much material to cover with regard to the many layers of society and government. I was a little embarrassed that most of the other students seemed to know so much about the subject already, so I did every suggested reading from the teacher as well as those mentioned by the other students.
The following term I took Survey of Economics and Ethics. I had felt the same way about others knowing more than me, so I kept Wikipedia open almost all day long. Every topic, every historical reference, every law, every CEO opened up a whole new world of understanding.
Suddenly, I was understanding topical references in watercooler conversations that had flown over my head before.
Now that I’m into my Organizational Studies and Information Systems classes, I’m constantly being reminded of things I learned in those core classes. I’ve been able to speak up in Organizational Foundations about things I learned in Ethics and Economics and that feels really good. I know that I’m contributing to my classes the way I’ve seen other students contribute… and it’s starting to be reflected in my office as well.
I also had to thank my instructor because I was recently chatting with some of my peers (although they were a step or two up the ladder from me in organizational structure), and someone brought up Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs… which we’d JUST studied in class. I was able to fully participate in a higher-level conversation with some really brilliant people as a direct result of my horizons being broadened by the curriculum that I thought I didn’t even ‘need’.
It really hit me after that point that I wasn’t just here at SLU to learn a trade. I wasn’t just here to improve my career prospects or make myself more marketable.
I’m here becoming a more well-rounded person who is better able to connect with even more people in the world around me.
I guess core studies aren’t a waste of time after all!
Photo Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/paullew/2442045767/